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So you have to do a science fair project and there are plenty of websites that will give you detailed, step-by-step directions like a recipe for a cake – but, that’s not “real science”.
If you have found your way to my website – I hope you are at least thinking about designing your own project!!
The key to designing your own project is NOT to start with the question – even though that seems like a good place to start – but rather to start with the DEPENDENT VARIABLE!!
Remember that the DEPENDENT VARIABLE must be quantitative — That means it can be measured in numbers (as opposed to qualitative variables that are described with adjectives).
So figure out what can you measure???
What might you have access to that other students do not? Think about what your mom does, what your dad does, what your neighbors do, what your teachers might have in their classrooms and try to identify something unique. Pretty much ANYTHING that measures something such that you end up with a NUMBER – will do.
Here are some things to think about:
You could measure…
• size or a change in size: weight, height, length, volume, area, perimeter, diameter
• speed (= distance / time)
• concentration (= # / volume)
• density (= mass/volume)
• frequency (how often something happens)
• angles and/or direction
• percent coverage, percent change (loss or increase)
• and many other things like temperature, humidity, light, sound, pH, wind speed, direction, water quality, tidal height, heart rate, blood pressure, reaction time
Now you need to figure out an INDEPENDENT VARIABLE can be either quantitative or qualitative (but quantitative would be best).
Examples of qualitative variables would include:
• color: red, blue, green, yellow, orange
• small, medium, large
• slow, medium, fast
• high, low
• old, young
• labels for groupings: A, B, C, D, E
• any type of category
NOW form your question: How does the independent variable effect the dependent variable?
Your experiment will involve CHANGING the independent and MEASURING the dependent.
Good Luck! The best part will be when the judge asks “where did you get the idea?” (and they will ask!) – you will be able to say “I designed it myself!”